On June 9, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Twitter that he was “signing an Executive Order LIFTING [New Jersey’s] STAY-AT-HOME ORDER” as the state enters “Phase 2” of the recovery process. Many news outlets and employers took this announcement to mean there would be significant changes for New Jersey businesses. However, the executive orders the Governor signed on June 9, 2020 brought only incremental change and will not adjust operations for most New Jersey office workers.
As New Jersey continues on the road to recovery, Executive Order 152 eliminates the earlier requirement that mandated (with limited exceptions) that New Jersey residents remain at home. This Order, however (along with many of the recent New Jersey executive orders slowly lifting Covid-19 restrictions) is focused more on recreational and personal activities than workplace operations. Specifically, the Order adjusts requirements for permissible indoor and outdoor gatherings, allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people and indoor gatherings of up to 25% of a building’s capacity, to a maximum of 50 people. Such gatherings are also subject to several additional requirements, including wearing face coverings, demarcating six feet, and arranging for contactless payment for any fees and/or donations wherever feasible.
Importantly, the Order does not repeal the portion of Executive Order 107 which requires that all businesses in the state “must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements.” (Executive Order 107, paragraph 10.) In other words, New Jersey employers must continue to provide telework arrangements for all employees who can perform their functions remotely.
At this time, the state has not provided guidance for returning office workers, and remote work will continue for any worker who can work from home. Prior information released by the Governor suggests that the state will allow certain office operations to resume in “Phase 3,” but there is no further information available about the scope or restrictions that will accompany such operations.
Reed Smith’s Labor and Employment team will continue to monitor these developments and provide further information as it becomes available. If you have any questions about how these restrictions could impact your business, Reed Smith’s employment attorneys are available to assist.